This article is written by Yann Lesestre.
After a few powerpoint presentations, delegates were invited by the facilitator to comment on what has just been said and submit their own ideas. While some delegates were actively participating in the discussions, others preferred to chat with their neighbors or check their emails – if not demonstrating deep signs of fatigue and boredom. In the end, sessions closed with the motto of the week: “do your homework”, suggesting that participants still had much to do in preparing questions for next sessions, implementing processes back home and more generally, applying what has been learnt.
Sounds like your last university class? Not at all: this constitutes a typical technical expert meeting (TEM) among those that were held in Bonn for the March 2014 ADP session on renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) policies. The TEMs are a new feature of the UNFCCC ADP process. They consist in technical and policy expert presentations for the purpose of inspiring delegates to implement in their own countries the legislation, regulation and measures necessary to increase the pre-2020 ambition in closing the emissions gap.
Image Source: IISD
The demands expressed by the parties, quite classic in their content, were presented during the TEMs. Developing countries -such as Ecuador- claimed their need for economic development to justify their government’s reluctance to implement green technologies at a high cost. The importance of financial support and technological transfers to implement RE and EE policies was also underlined. But those classic contradictions between parties did not prevent the discussion from being quite stimulating and constructive.
During the RE TEMs, many countries presented their technologies and the ways they use them to promote their energy independence. The positive impact of RE regarding human health and environment protection was also emphasized during these talks. However, many obstacles remain in the way of implementing those energy sources, such as solar and wind energy variability, the lack of financial support and technologies and their low competitiveness compared to fossil energy sources. Yet, the increasing affordability of RE technologies was pointed out by the IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency). All countries that presented their energy policy roadmap pledged significant increases of their RE production during the next years or decades – but not always their part in the total national energy consumption.
Feed-in tariffs mechanisms were presented as one of the main tools to promote RE development. The What Next Forum presented the idea of financing developing countries feed-in tariff policies through the Green Climate Fund. However, it was agreed that context varied from one country to another, and that what may work somewhere might not elsewhere.
The potential of EE technologies tends to be more consensual. The IEA (International Energy Agency) qualified EE as a “no-regret investment”. Indeed, energy savings due to EE often make their implementation profitable on the long run. Still many economic barriers remain, such as the lack of available technologies in the South or the lack of incentives from private investment.
Developing EE would require public institutions creating market incentives. Among potential measures, clear product standards was recognized as a key tool to promote EE. Access to finance and data are also crucial in order to reach this aim. Both regional and national public administrations should also be fully involved in the promotion of EE technologies.
A useful method?
Parties demonstrated enthusiasm for the outcomes of those discussions. The contribution of various international organizations to the TEMs was welcomed. Their participation in the work of UNFCCC institutions was requested.
However, those discussions did not lead to any formal decisions. Because of that, some parties expressed concerns regarding moving forward with workstream 2 with the TEM procedure. To those critics, co-chairs and facilitators emphasized the importance of experience sharing to disseminate the best practices.
Cities and of the urban environment will be the focus of a further round of TEMs in June – during the next UN climate change conference – with an additional focus on land-use change including forests and agriculture. The expert meetings that begun this week in Bonn are to continue throughout the year with the aim of encouraging concrete new policies, action and cooperation to deal with climate change, for these to finally be showcased at the COP 20 in Lima.
About the author: Yann Lesestre is a Master Student in Public Affairs and Energy policies in Sciences Po Paris. He has joigned the CliMates Training team in February 2014.